Collective commitment needed to avert Greek tragedy

What the Greeks seem to forget in the painful financial and restructuring negotiations that have been ongoing for five years, is that no one, let alone the financially challenged, hard-working taxpayers of Europe, owes them a living ("Greek crisis sends Asian bourses tumbling"; yesterday).

Forty years of corruption, gross and negligent mismanagement, serial tax avoidance and generous pensions at an early retirement age have led to a few Greeks getting very wealthy and the rest of the country getting poorer.

This social contract between the elite, the government and the people must be rewritten, and this should be the goal of the reforms suggested by the lenders.

It is a hard pill to swallow but will be the sign of a nation willing to bear responsibility for its actions, as demonstrated by Ireland, Iceland and others who recently suffered from poor decisions prior to the financial downturn in 2007.

Rather than blame the rest of the world for their dire predicament, the Greeks should be working tirelessly to redevelop their economy, reinvent their labour practices and improve their governance capabilities.

Emphasising a goods and services tax (GST) type of tax collection system could eliminate much of the leakage on the revenue side.

However, regardless of the remedies proposed by well-intentioned outsiders, as in all such cases, the Greeks, and only the Greeks, can decide if they can make the collective commitment to the changes necessary to take advantage of the abundant gifts their nation has been blessed with.

David Grant

This article was first published on July 1, 2015.
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